Gear Review: The BOB IBEX Trailer

As I wrote about in my Biking Without Borders column at the Adventure Cycling blog on July 18, I spent a little over two weeks this past summer bicycling a hybrid route made up of parts of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. It was the first time I’ve taken a longish ride hauling a trailer, as opposed to carrying panniers on racks. The trailer I pulled was a single-wheeled BOB IBEX, the shocked version -- featuring three inches of adjustable suspension travel -- of the standard BOB YAK trailer.

My impressions? Great on the flats and downhills, whether paved or dirt (it was easy to forget I was even pulling the trailer a lot of the time); okay on the uphills, though I felt more sluggish than when carrying a similar amount of weight in panniers; and not so good in heavy crosswinds. In fact, I found downright terrifying a stretch of U.S. 20 I was forced to pedal from the Idaho-Montana border at Targhee Pass, about 8 miles into the town of West Yellowstone. Strong crosswinds were compounded by 1)heavy tourist and truck traffic and 2)brutal rumble strips that I had to skirt either to the right (think steep drop-off over nasty, angular boulders) or to the left (think previously mentioned truck and tourist traffic). I was getting blown around so much that I actually dismounted and walked a couple of miles through the worst of it.

To be fair, I’m not sure how much better -- if at all -- a set of front and rear panniers would have performed in similar conditions.

Other impressions:

*The trailer, which ships in pieces, was quite easy to assemble.

*Parking the long and wide bike-trailer rig, which you do by angling both the trailer and handlebars 90 degrees to the bike frame, was no problem after some practice. Because I was in remote areas for the most part, parking space was not a concern; it would be if you were in a town with crowded sidewalks, because this baby takes up a lot of room. 

*Packing the dry sak suits someone like me, who tends to throw things in rather than being neat and organized. For the rider who likes everything in a certain place, that’s much easier to accomplish with a set of rack packs than it is with the single-compartment dry sak.

*The trailer is quite easy to attach and detach from the bike, once you get the hang of it. This is a real advantage over panniers. For this reason, I would also say that a trailer like this is good for a quick bike overnight: just throw in the tent and everything else, hook the trailer up to your bike, and hit the road or trail.

*The locking/cotter pin is vital to keeping the bike and trailer safely attached to one another. Their elastic attachment, I found, is easy to break. Once that breaks, it’s easy to lose the pin, so I was glad I had spares along.

Because I was riding a 29er Salsa Fargo lent to me by the company (a bike that I’ll plan to review here at a later date), I had to opt for purchasing the IBEX 28, specially designed for 29er mountain bikes and road bikes with full-wrap fenders. I’ll probably find out next summer if there’s any problem fitting this longer-reach trailer to the standard 26-inch wheels of my Jamis mountain bike.

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14 responses so far ↓

Rick Arnett - Jan 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Rode the TransAm/Western Express (with some big detours in KS and UT) and the Coast Route from SF to Portland this past year-- 5000 miles with panniers. I ride heavy, around 75#. I considered a trailer for the planned 10,000 mile solo, self contained around the US tour starting in March, but shortly after landing in Portland I took a 6-week holiday job with UPS delivering out of a trailer on a bike. Having humped the trailer for 6 weeks all day, I'm definitely sticking with panniers when the ride rolls on in Spring

Alan - Jan 18, 2012 at 6:25 PM

I got an IBEX trailer to ride from St. Paul up to Duluth and over to Wisconsin to my cousin's wedding. It tracks great and is wonderful on the flats. I also like being able to unhook the load so quickly. Bike I used did not have low enough gearing to take it someplace hilly but for MN was fine.

Michael McCoy - Jan 19, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Guys, thanks for the comments!

John Sieber - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I've enjoyed using a BOB to carry my gear, especially on dirt. The ability to use the trailer to hold the bike up like shown in the 2nd and 3rd photo is an extra bonus!

Greg Purviance - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:59 PM

In '97 my wife and I took one set of panniers and a BOB trailer. They both have their pluses and minuses now that we tour on tandems with the kids we definitely use both. I will also get an Ibex as budget allows

chris wathan - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:55 PM

i have a bob yak trailer, love the way i tracks behind my bike. my wife and i rode the c&o towpath in july ,my wife had panniers and i pulled the trailer no issues at all.

Pete - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Just ordered the Yak Plus for a trip through Utah, using my Fargo. Are you saying the Yak Plus will not work on the Fargo? It says that it will work with 29er and I tried another 29er at LBS, not my Fargo. Ordered through REI so can change if needed.

Michael McCoy - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Pete, the Yak 28 is indeed designed to work with 29ers. As I understand it, the "Plus" refers to the fact that it comes with a dry sack, not to the size of the bike it fits.

Kevin - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Looking at purchasing IBEx to use with Jamis Bosanova. Mechanical disc brakes and smallish fenders (2011 model)
friend said it may not work??!! BUMMER is this correct? Thanks

Michael McCoy - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Kevin, I don't know offhand, but I will ask around & get back to you.

Kevin Lee - Jun 28, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Thanks Michael-I appreciate that. Frankly, I really want to buy one. I live in Pittsburgh and can take a Friday afternoon ride on the Great Allegheny Passage to Ohiopyle for whitewater, camping and hiking. In one day I can set up camp, hang out and return on a Sunday and not miss any work. It is so great! The ibex would make it even better!

Michael McCoy - Jun 28, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Kevin, here's what our sales specialist Patrick Finley has to say: "This shouldn't be an issue with this bike; appears to depend on location of disc caliper/frame design. Customer will want to order 700c version of trailer."

kevin - Jun 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Thanks Michael.

David Brittain - May 12, 2013 at 8:51 AM

I have toured with a bob trailer and all of he reviewers concerns are valid. I've noticed that my companions with panniers are faster than me on the up hills but I rock past them on the downhills. The flats we are all about even . Make sure you pack your trailer in a well balanced manner as you can get a shimmy when you go past 30 mph .
I have also traveled by train with my bob and was able to take the wheel off and box it up quite easily. Also, the trailer is indestructible !

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